Whanganui Trip

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Whanganui River

February 2001

Friday 2 February 2001

Got up at 4.45am and arrived at Taumarunui at 7.30am. The blazing saddles people dropped us off at Ohinepani, cutting 22km off our trip. The man dropped us off an then was off in a cloud of dust, not even checking if our canoe floated. It did. But not for long. We tied eveything on, read the first instructions from our guidebook and went for it. The first rapid was about 100m downstream, we knew we had to keep left, but got swept onto a snag, with a fatal backstroke from a Tara in panic putting us broadsie and into the drink. Quite warm really. Luckly we were only in waist deep water and close to a shingle bank. So we hauled ourselves out, turned the canoe on it's side to drain, and rearranged the bins and bags. So now we know how to fall out.

From then on we were a bit cold with our wet clothes. We got a little swamped occassionally from large standing waves during the rest of the day, but we had learnt from our little upset in the morning, and managed the rest of the rapids pretty well.

We made it to Whakahoro Hut in about 6 hours. The last little bit was up a side stream, so we had to paddle continously - a little hard to do after 6 hours paddling.

Getting up to the hut was the next mission. We hauled the canoe up a bank an unloaded. Then I went to talk to the friendly ranger who came and picked our gear up in his ute! (It was a 300m walk uphill to the hut). Wades Landing next door was offering showers for $2 which was a treat. We were both pretty worn out - Trev has sore shoulders and I have a sore elbow, so we snoozed most of the afternoon. It was a lovely sunny day so we could dry all our stuff. Unfortunately a dog pissed on Trev's drying shirt. About 10.00pm two bus loads of people arrived at the camp site.

Saturday 3 February 2001

We woke up to tent city and decided we had better get out fast - there were at least 15 other people in our bed. So we trudged down the hill with all our gear and launched the canoe. Again there was another big-arse rapid in the first 100m. Not a problem for us pros though! We strated at about 8am and got to the John Coull hut at about 1pm. We spoke to the ranger there and he said last Waitangi weekend there were about 100 people there. So we though we had better carry on. Another couple of hours padddling later and we were at Mangawaiti camp site. On the way we were passed by two guys in a high tech kayak going really fast. We think they will do the whole three day trip in one day. At the Mangawaiti camp site there were about 10 peple. We put up the tent and went to sleep at about 4pm. We woke up and made dinner at 6ish, beef curry and rice. decided to get up early and see if we could get out tomorrow.

Sunday 4 February 2001

Up at dawn, started into breakfast/packing/breaking down the tent in an effort to get on the river asap. Think we might have woken fellow campers, but they were still chatty enough. By the way, though we had no bed rolls or pillows, managed to sleep pretty well, shows what being completely buggered will do for you. Put on polyprops as soon as we got up, as oposed to yesterday when we waited till we got 1km or so down the river. It is very cold at river level, even when the sun is out, especially when you are wet all the time. Also put sunscreen on as we got a bit burnt yesterday on the tops of our feet. Hit the river at 7.30am, still overcast as it has been every morning. Hope it will clear soon as the sunny blue skies make a big differnece. We are lucky to have the river to ourselves, it is very pretty with the limpid water, cliffs covered in moss and ferns, topped by native bush. When we stop padding the only sound is the occassional waterfall trickling down a cliff face, or the sound of an approaching rapid. Despite being pretty sore from the previous two days, we make good time, arriving at Tieke Marae at 10.10am. We stop to eat and decide we can easily make Pipirki and out today. We have started counting goats on the side of the river and reached 30 on the second day, we have already reached 40 by this point, and by the end of the day saw 68! Woner what DOC is doing about it. From Tieke through to Ngaporo camp the river is very slow moving with very few rapids. This is pretty but means a lot of paddling. We did 35km the first day, 47 on the second (to get awamy from the crowd) and 41 on the last day, and each day there were fewer rapids = more paddling. By the time we reached the Ngaporo camp we were both pretty tired. We looked at our map and decided that Pipiriki was too close not to try for. We were also hoping that there would be other people getting out today so that someone would be there to pick us up, but we hadn't seen anyone yet. At about this time I started to notice my life jacket was rubbing painfully under my arms as I paddle. We caried on downriver. The biggest rapids on the river were in this last stretch, and we read our guide closely to sort out techinque before we hit them. They were pretty exciting and actually welcome after all the paddling. We came pretty close to some big snags/rocks in a couple, but got through without hitting anything or tripping out so were well pleased. One rapid had very high pressure waves and we saw a copuple gathering there gear on the other side of it. As we approached we managed to pull our technique together and passed through just to the side of the waves. We caugt up to a group of people at this point and were relieved to see that one of them had hired their gear from the same place as us (blazing paddles). Pipirki was 10 minitues downstream and we were very pleased to see it. We hauled out and changed into dry clothes (in the bush, no facilities here) then sat in the sun and waited for our pickup. I found that my armpits had nice big weeping raw patches and resinged to spend the next few days walking arround with my arms out like a chicken. Tara has a very sore elbow and a numb leg, and we are both worn out with sore muscles. Thankfully we have two days to recover before work.

Click here to see some of the photographs we took.